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Art in galleries can be cold, art in cafes can be a far more relaxed and inviting prospect... Austin’s, for instance, is by far the most inviting vibrantly relaxed place in Brick Lane... There’s lots of art to be explored and experienced in the capital city right now, you got to go look for it though, you have to make the effort, a lot of it is hiding - there’s the latest Showcase tonight at Cafe 1001, the D.I.Y London Seen launches tomorrow in a closed down Covent Garden shop (see Organ art archivefor more).  Art is alive... 
            And so last night it was canvas rather than guitars on our minds as we took ourselves off to an opening of an art show in Willesden Green, NW10. A show that turned out to be a little disappointing... but but but, such is the nature of art and getting out there and just doing it in London right now, that heading for one show at one gallery will almost inevitably throw up an accidental encounter with another. And right on our doorstop as well, if we hadn’t been passing we would have been blissfully unaware... Back from the disappointment of Willesden we scuttled to the Gracelands Cafe in Kensal Rise (it may not be as alive as some area of the city but there are one or two things happening around here – that stuff in the Old Flower Shop, Hoppy at the Lexi this week...  art is starting to break out, there’s something creative in the North West London air). 
        The chalk board outside was inviting people to just come in and experience the work of one NICK VADASZ. The colourful cafe emptied of tables for the night.... just the wall of work, some comfortable seats, a bar, and some rather vibrant striking eye-demanding colour. Nick’s work is alive with atmosphere, attention-catching pieces, acrylic on sizeable pieces of canvas, contemporary London cityscapes, familiar shapes picked out from the colour, the light, the atmosphere... We’re not talking any kind of cutting edge situationist street art punk rock paint throwing look at me attitude here, we’re simply talking alive vibrant exciting inspiring paint on canvas and some very fine rewarding rather beautiful work. Nick Vadasz has a clear love of the East End of the city he captures with such radiant warmth as well as for the paint he moves around his canvas in such a glowing way. Inspiring, exciting, vibrantly glowing colours... 
        Gracelands Cafe is to be found on College Road, Kensal Green, London NW10. Nearest tube – Kensal Green, or take the overground to Kensal Rise. The furniture is back in place, food is being served, and Nick’s work is on the walls waiting there for you...
          Nick Vadasz's website is over at, and as we’ve said before, looking at art on the web is really no kind of satisfying substitute for experiencing it in the flesh. Nick’s on-line portfolio (or indeed that piece up there) does him no justice what so ever, tempted to go have a coffee and sandwich for lunch right now, go enjoy bathing in it all again in the summer daylight - now the idea of going back is in my head, the thought of seeing it again is a bit of a buzz, good exciting art makes you buzz... (S) 

ART REVIEW:  SHOWCASE @ 1001 Cafe, Brick Lane, 5th August.... The idea is a good one, a showcase for the work new emerging artists, one night only – put the work up, throw open the doors at 5.30pm and stay open until somewhere around midnight, one night only, no messing about. Who goes to any of the dozens of Brick Lane galleries at any time besides the opening nights of the shows anyway? Most of the galleries aren’t even open when the East End is at its most vibrant, all closed and dark during the evening when people are out at gigs. Seems most of the small galleries are only open (and showing to no one) during the dead of day time... fed up with passing locked doors on the way to gigs. 
             Showcase was busy tonight, the 1001 Cafe is always a vibrant place anyway, find it down Dray Walk, just over from the Rough Trade East shop by the old Truman Brewery, just off Brick Lane. The showcase itself takes place in the big open backroom of the spacious cafe - up the stairs, battle through all the people sitting on the always crowded forecourt and through the bit with all the books and art and comfy seats and there it is - the backroom and the Showcase sign and a busy room divided up by simple white wooden peg-board panels. Well lit, basic, spacious and packed with fresh art waiting to be discovered, waiting to be bought, explored and generally enthused over... There’s a buzz in here, a busy relaxed atmosphere, none of the stagnant formality of your ‘normal’ gallery, this is D.I.Y good and people just getting in there and doing it, a positive thing surely? Or is it? Seems that the organisers are treating the artists well, for once this doesn’t feel like an exercise in nothing more than parting hopeful artists with the little bit of cash they have in exchange for some over-hyped wall space that doesn’t live up the promise offered by a slick website. Showcase feels honest, it feels right...  The one major thing that lets all the good intention and obvious committed enthusiasm of Showcase down is the lack of any real quality control - of the eighteen or so artists ‘showcasing’ tonight there’s only really maybe two or three that really seriously warrant further investigation... Most of the work on display really isn’t that exciting, some of it verging on bad and in danger of bringing down what is in essence an excellent idea – a bit of quality control is desperately needed or an idea that just might fly in the coming months could come crashing down before those wings have really allowed themselves to spread. A little more quality control is going to be needed if we’re going to come back every two weeks, saw enough tonight to thing a trip down Brick Lane again in two weeks will be worth it though... 
         Of those worthy of more attention tonight, ANIA PIENIQZEK’s rather vibrantly bold still-life pieces stand out, COLLEN MORICE’s Scratchings From The Underground and her manipulation of photographic images of torn posters from the tube system are rather interesting, KARIN VAN DER PLAS and her colourfully energetic three dimensional folk art pieces draw the eye with their riot of colour and slightly disturbing undercurrent, while KHUAN TRU’s graphic novel style Vector caricatures are strong, some of EMMA ASHTON’s pop-art cats are charming in a sweet kind of candy coloured way and best of all, LEANNE GOYMER’s stylised comic book influenced 50’s flavoured pop-art painting showed promise and demanded a mental note of her name be taken – just might have been a bargain investment at around forty pound a piece had we had some spare cash to hand. All the work is on sale tonight, some of it more realistically priced that others, all the artists are there politely lurking and ready to talk (or at least we assume they were . the two or three we met were more than willing to chat without ever being pushy). The whole event is vibrant, friendly, energetic, alive and if the enthusiastic organisers can get a handle on that quality control issue then the early days of Showcase (tonight was the third) might just build in to something rather good. The event happens every second Wednesday, the next one is on August 19th, find out more via the website and go enjoy exploring some new artists in a very relaxed friendly informal slightly chaotic, rather positive environment - Showcase webpage

DM STITH, SOMERSET HOUSEDM STITH / BAT FOR LASHES – Somerset House, London, 16th July - 

Now that was serious rain! And it was all going so well until DM Stith said something about thinking it wasn’t going to rain and then sang a final song of a rather beautiful set that had something to do with rain... then it started to rain... it started to seriously rain, seriously seriously rain, torrential rain, and thunder and lightening and soaked... soaked to our underwear kind of rain...
      DM Stith got to play in relatively pleasant summer warmth and fading light, the man himself, David Michael Smith, up front, augmented by cello and sax, gentle electric guitar, imaginative percussion and all kinds beauty... Been looking forward to this since the delights of his Heavy Ghost album unwrapped themselves with such unexpected glory... He and his fine band didn’t disappoint. I suspect the majority of the crowd, mostly still arriving during his half hour set, had no idea who the gentle man with the acoustic guitar and the very polite almost shy stage manner was - I suspect that by the end, judging by the warm reaction, quite a few were left wanting to find out more. Pin-pointing his sound isn’t easy, DM Stith is rather different, unique, a beautiful glowing gentle sound, a sound with delicate wings, a sound that gently lifts everything – ghostly, choral, church-like. The fact that his father is a wind ensemble director and former church choir director, his grandfather a professor in the music department at Cornell University, his mother a respected pianist and his sisters opera singers, shows – just a different set of exposures, a slightly different approach to your average alt.rocker... If Sea  Nymphs were from Brooklyn (via Bloomington, Indiana) – gentle songs that glow, epic suggestions, magical touches, crafted choral folk-experiments that kept the rain away and made strangers smile at each other out there on the stone courtyard of Somerset House... I was expecting something special and I suspected this would be a fine place for a first live encounter, he and his band did not disappoint, they were an uplifting delight... 

BAT FOR LASHES, SOMERSET HOUSE IN THE RAINYes, back at Somerset House for a second time this week. We like this place, this big old buildings on all four sides, the river, the courtyard at Somerset House is a great place to catch a band and bask in the evening summer sun – the last song from DM Stith and his band is met with the start of the rain, by the time he finishes, people are rushing for cover, umbrellas up everywhere, this is a little more than a touch of rain! That crash of thunder wasn’t on the track being played over the PA was it? We’re all soaked to the skin in a matter of minutes, the open air backstage area is a parade of drowned rat small-time rockstars and not looking so cool now are you, hairspray not doing the job tonight...

             DM Stith was the reason for being here tonight but Bat For Lashes in the lashing rain and the lashing lightning and lashing everything else was something rather magical. Under the lights with the rain providing the atmosphere and most of us determine to stick it out... From the start of Trophy right through, up there sounding very very Kate Bush in a very positive otherworldly wizards and sirens kind of way... and looking a bit Rick Wakeman in those capes and cat-suits and things as the rain lashed and the thunder crashed and the rich reds and deep purples bathed the Somerset House walls again...  all eyeliner chaos and warm in the cold and wet, soaked to our skins, there is no turning back... all rather magical actually, you had to be there in the rain...

SUNDAY IS RADIOHEAD DAY – ORGAN HOUR, 9.00PM UK time on Resonance FM, 104.4FM on the dial in London, and world wide via - this week The Other Rock Show and the further exploration, on proper radio, of rock music that goes beyond the confines of 4/4. This week we have an early taste of the new Gong album that isn't out until September, first with Hillage for ages, classic Gong teapot taxi travel... 


Great Birds of the British Isles is the first ever collaborative show from artists called Milk, Dora, K148 and Amour. The four formed this collective after meeting via underground graffiti circles, painting walls and photographing the evolution of the artform. 
         “Print, paint and photography have brought these four birds together. After finding each other’s passions they are determined to take a step forward and create something totally fresh and unique. Expect to peer into a boudoir of colour texture and design with solo and collaborative pieces spilling from wall to canvas and back again, exploring an intoxicating mix of juiced up logos, great birds, female forms and a spoon full of graffiti... seen through a very different eye. Now sit back and watch them spread there wings and fly!” 

        Oblong is a small friendly gallery on the side of a house come stone carving studio in Islington, North London (take the bus, 141 stops right outside, quite a walk from the tube station). Almost feels like a converted garage – what a fine idea, do away with cars and turn all your garages in to galleries. I don’t know why but, graffiti, so I’m expecting big and bold, a brash assault of attitude, I’m expecting busy, I’m really not expecting small and subtle, delicate – delicate pieces, subtle colours... this is a little different, push different artistic buttons. The whole environment is subtle, pastel colours on the grey wall, clouds shapes and pieces spilling out from canvas on to the brickwork. The collaborations work, the individual pieces feed off each other. Bold pieces, small pieces, a feminine style, I kind of wanted more more more... there wasn’t enough of it, wanted more from the four of them, I guess wanting more is no bad thing... Well worth your time... small and subtle is sometimes good, this is good... 

         Oblong is at 69 Southgate Road, London N1 (nearest tube is Angel). The show opens on Friday 10th July and runs until August 9th – more details from or

THE MARS VOLTA – Somerset House, London, 13th July 

     No support band, no real excuse for that, all that time and space and audience and ticket price, just one band and well, there could so easily have been a half hour set from someone like, well, a new band like Chickenhawk or Kong or...  Shouldn’t you big bands and promoters be giving the fresh blood the time and space? You were that flesh blood in need of an audience once upon a time. That little moan out of the way, this is a great place to see a band and the weather is good and The Mars Volta more than most have a right to enter to the sounds of the Mexican Spaghetti Western sounds of Moroconi as the sun starts to go down... 
             So, pretty much every description and gig listing of The Mars Volta mentions the P word, and those of us who take these Prog things seriously debate this fact vigorously - so much bandwidth could be saved if the following question could be answered: just what is frontman Cedric Bixler Zavala drinking on stage? He has a steaming mug of something on a special Mug Table up front, which he replenishes from a rather dark shiny flask.  The sight instantly makes me want to swap my four quid (FOUR QUID!!!!!) weeny bottle of fake cider for a nice cuppa, strong, milk no sugar, ta. Now, I'm sure there are Mars Volta fans in the moshpit in front of me who can tell me exactly what's in the mug, thus resolving all arguments: if it's tea, then they are progging Prog, end of story. 
          My guess is that it's not tea, certainly not orange and the bag left in, but some weirdass peyote desert sage medicine thing. With a few shots of really strong coffee thrown in.  Because The Mars Volta are at heart a psychedelic band, for all their volume and nods towards complexity.  There's a splash of King Crimson and passing combinations of voice and instrument that sounds like Yes, but most of all its Led Zeppelin in a wall of sound, (guitarist Omar Ridriguez-Lopez unashamedly Page to Cedric's Plant) driving along in their most indulgent jamming mood. On record, they're dense and obtuse enough, so I'm expecting more so live.

          Somerset House is an absolutely spectacular venue: a great open air square courtyard with a handy gentle slope for better viewing, enclosed by historic architecture, straddling what was once the bank of the Thames, right there smack bang in the middle of London. A brilliant blue sky darkens, the facades behind the stage and around us are gradually lit with ever-changing, gold, deep red and blue lights. The crowd's a fascinating balance of young and old devotees, including gangs of cool and/or eccentric females, who know every single word, and pale young men attempting to make the most of their naturally curly hair.  That billowing wall of sound is distorted and harsh close up, better toward the back - but in this brilliant setting the band's sheer flamboyance shines.  I'm surprised at how compelling The Mars Volta are, live - to be frank, a lot of their recordings leave me frustrated, sounding similar to each other, grooving along at the same pace, lacking strong melodies. But there's no denying the conviction and drive and emotional depth behind their work, and it pours out of them live. 
            There's a lot of new material tonight, and its good - very good, Cotopaxi is an early set new song biting highlight, the Mars Volta on form and striving for more.  Most of their songs, old and new, sway along in six time, telling dark, angsty stories, way too dense and blurred and leveled-out to grasp details first time but creating enough atmosphere and groove to pick up on. It's an odd, slippery mix of skilled musicianship and vague looseness, veering between complex structure and jamming, and if you let it wash over you in psyched-out waves it works.  Especially tonight, with the dome of a deep violet, un-English clear desert sky overhead, the white stone of Somerset House surreal against it. Cedric and Omar and indeed the lot of them look great, Cedric throwing endless skinny Robert Plant shapes and the occasional somersault as they barrel through and delve into their shared visions. Of course they're at their best when they break things up, inject light and shade, and towards the end have passages of space and contrast - a new song of the recent Octahedron album called Teflon showing just that with all the burning tires and... But those long, intense, almost obsessive wig-outs have their place too, especially when the time and place is right, like it is tonight. 
              The Mars Volta take a bit of listening to, they're worth it,  they mean it. They're a strange band, lost in a personal world of their own - no going through the motions here, thankfully a band fueled on feel and pure energy rather than tedious pin-point technique – they certainly can play, they don’t need to prove it. The trick is to tune in to the storm and overlook the bits that get just a little too Led Zep with out the real Zeppelin dimensions - just let it go and get lost in that  personal world all of their own.... For the fans who've already made the journey in to that world, this was one helluva gig, for those on the edge dipping in a toe it was a triumph, two hours and no messing about, just a classic rock band in their own space and inviting us to ride with them... No encores or any of that stuff, just straight in and no stopping for anything, two hours and a litlte bit and then they gone, lights up, colour everywhere and a classic bit of ’76 Kiss and Mr Speed on the PA while we soak up the atmosphere, smile at strangers then head for The Strand taking a special gig with us...
       The Somerset House series of shows is on now and continues all this week down by the River Thames... Full details:
ENGINEERS – Sonic Catherdral @ Bush Hall, London, 10th July 

– We’ve missed the supports, other places to be, other bands to see, can’t be in two places at once, lot of people here for the supports so it seems – Richard Barbieri, he of Porcupine Tree and Japan along with Ulrich Schnauss. Porcupine Tree lost our interest years ago, anything involving a Porcupine Tree is going to attract the devoted, careful timing lands us in West London’s Bush Hall just in time for the headliners, kind of keen to see them on the strength of the new album... 
       Engineers arrive on stage in a minimal low key kind of way, almost in darkness, not much of a light show, no kind of theatrical sense of event, no real build up, just shadowy figures almost unnoticed for a moment under the faded splendour of the Bush Hall chandeliers... and somehow that feels right  Tonight, they just let the music do the talking, no need for lights or words or any grand entry, just let the music glide in that very easy effortless way. I’m sure it takes a lot of effort but you know what I mean, everything is easy.... They haven’t played live in ages, it kind of shows, communication and audience connection is down to a minimum, it feels a little awkward, it does feel right though, it just feels right – for tonight anyway – and they seem kind of surprised to see so many here, nervously pleased - these are not your average rockstarish type people, something a little different here.  The Manchester band are a gentle delight, they glide serenely, they build and float, they glow in the perfect Bush Hall darkness. A mix of electronic Krautrock warmth and anthemic shoegazer flow somewhere there in the darkness and the waves of gentle warmth. They kind of shimmer, they touch on Harmonia, people bask in it, are the band enjoying this? Is this uncomfortable? Do they really want to be playing live? They’re engineers, they engineer delicate walls of sound again and again, does it feel right to them up there? It is a sound to savour.... They have a new album, same old story, labels messing about, four years after the first they’re getting Three Fact Fader out  Things are all very pleasant, they kind of get themselves in gentle forward moving state of glow and glide away in a semi (tangerine) dreamstate of slowly spiralling Chapterhouse Rides and Slowdives and touches on Neu and Amon Duul and Boards Of Canada on that plane is where they stay, gently moving forward and dreams of falling and glowing and all very nice in the most positive of ways and not many dimensions but who needs dimension? This is the thing that still celebrates itself and let us quietly slip out the side door and leave them on their pleasant ride, drifting and dreaming and...  or

ALBUM REVIEW:  ENGINEERS – Three Fact Fader (K Scope) – They have a plush new album, been some time in the making, they’re a band to just flow with, bask in, a refined sound, a refined album. Somewhere near the glory days of shoegaze, not far from mellow kraut rock and dreamscapes and inauras and just floating out there with their songs and their textures and subtle structures and simple considered details and should you be in a relaxed mellow mood and feel like gliding and glowing and....  An album to spend time with, unravelling it as it unravels you...

kill it kid @ St. PancrasLIVE KILL IT KID – St Pancras Station, London, 2nd June 

Now this is a cool place to see a band, cool in all senses of the word in this damn weather what with London in melt-down and such... Kill It Kid, a band named after an old Blind Willie McTell tune, in a railway station, playing some tunes to people rushing by... it isn’t quite freight-trains heading South but it does seem kind of right - the last bit of train travel  as romantic notion is alive and well once more at the born again St Pancras station – well it is upstairs sitting outside the Betjemen Bar where there’s no advertising clutter and you can watch the trains arriving from Europe while you take in the space, light and air of the grand gothic architecture - thank heavens Sir John stopped them pulling all this down.... 
            Kill It Kid are set up in the shopping mall bit downstairs though, not so much romance and air and space to be found down there but hey, this will do nicely for a free gig... The now London based Bristol band are a breath of authentic blues flavoured fresh air. Breezy songs, harvest moons, deep rich voices and swarming wasps mellowing-out around summer lemonade - a touch of rag-time from lips kept unclean. They're not the easiest of bands to pin down, lot of sides to explore, different voices and tempos, it may take a little while to connect it all – the strings and banjos and the flames getting higher and the melancholic ache and the harmonies and the stars that shine like switchblade silver, the cotton dresses and the roughly brushed hair and their 30’s Americana - they are worth sticking with though and they are stopping commuters and shoppers and making new friends tonight, two tickets to go please.... A fine early evening performance in the summer heat from a rather uplifting rather fine band and smiles and cheer all round.... 
         This is happening every Thursday in June apparently, different bands, same station, fine idea, don’t tell anyone about that upstairs bar and the fine Betjeman Ale, keep it a secret now, I like sitting there in the peaceful cool just drinking, watching  and doing nothing much else... or or Sir John Betjeman or

LIVE: FIGHT LIKE APES – Cargo, London, 1st July - Give me my hook, need that hook again, it seems like ages since those Apes were in town and yes I know it was only a couple of months ago but give me my hook goddammmmmit! Need that hook... 
          Going to a gig is an insane idea tonight, the sticky London heat has turned tube travel into some kind of endurance hell and the last place to be is crammed in to a room with some damn band... Sensible people are loitering in the frozen food aisles of air conditioned supermarkets or making like cats and doing nothing in this inconsiderate heat. London does not do heat, give me some rain, give me some rain... And neither does Cargo do heat with their hopelessly limited selection of bad beer which amounts to a choice of piss-poor draught larger or overpriced bottled crap – the draught runs out far too early and almost seven quid for a couple of those tiny cans of crappy Heineken is taking the p even by London standards, some of you venues don’t deserve us paying to get in.  We’re not here for the beer though, we're here for one thing only, those hooks... Give me those hooks... 
         Support band aren’t up to much, but then it really isn’t the weather for checking out some band we’ve never heard of, we’ll give them another chance, some other time, someplace where the bar and weather are a little more band/punter friendly, I do hate to be treated like this by venues...  Those Apes then... There’s something genuinely different and exciting about a Fight Like Apes gig, there’s a buzz of anticipation now, a buzz that builds as we wait, regular Ape followers are starting to get to know each other, a nod here, a hello again and a knowing smile there... The band arrive on stage armed with rather ominous looking planks of wood, who let them have big planks of wood!? Doesn’t anyone know how dangerous these potential weapons are in the hands of Pockets and Maykay? They start banging them together in some kind of semi-ritualistic semi-chaotic way, banging away just above our heads as the delightfully deceptive politeness and the toasting of things that is Digifucker opens things... And did you fuck her? And did you stick things up her? And did she love it? screams MayKay in that accusingly hurt butter wouldn’t melt way of hers, before that pretty (pretty is the only word) melody soothes things again... Perfect start, the four Apes up there and despite the heat, the place is jumping from the off... This is a real following now and you know already that I’m a hopelessly frothing fan when it comes to Fight Like Apes, if you want some kind of stick-up-ass objective critical review then this isn’t the place, gigs and bands like this are why we do this Organ thing, music this good still excites us like it did when we started this monster. For all their banter and their baiting and the fun, it really is all about the glorious songs and the heroicness of it all. They have something extra, something magical, something stirring, something that really does play with your emotions – “this may sound silly but they almost made me cry” said a girl in a purple skirt experiencing them for the first time.... and you know that isn’t silly, in there with all the fists and the swipes and the yelling and the playdough stuck up noses and the Buckfast they do have this magical stardust that they effortlessly sprinkle all over their songs, and they do make you swell up and yes they can make us cry and no nightmare breaking bungee whores, these Apes are special. “They might now be my favourite-ever purveyors of onstage banter” said a stage diving member of another band... They really are my favourite-ever purveyors of pretty much everything right now, give me more hooks! Woo, that one’s a homewrecker, looks like Woody Woodpecker... and the new songs nervously introduced mid-set bode well, didn’t catch the tittles but the first one sounded great until they second one got another big hook in and really got hold of us and took us off and falling into their version of Mclusky’s Lightsabre Cocksucker Blues and that hip-hop bellyflop karate rock and the lacking of moral standards and all tied up in jackets and... Jake Summers is a highlight again with all that getting of grace and good good taste... Magameanie roars past Napalm Death style.... The synths are as triumphant as ever... MayKay in the middle busting faces and replacing them with bigger smiles and flipping and gusto and all the taking off, she’s there in control with her big hair all over the place and her black dress and flying is fearful of them and we’re aching from jumping too much and sold to wanderlust, jousting with Pockets and flying synths and... 
           They return for an encore with those planks of wood and Battlestations and in it all goes, planks above audience heads and in our hand now, banging together, Maykay crowd surfing and using words like clandestine.... Pockets, Tom and Adrian all with great big shit eating grins... Lovely noise, that makes us love them.... another triumph... the best one yet, until the next one that is, there’s no getting any grace here, this band are special, this is proper pop and fun and bite and energy and hope and most bands are boring the hell out of me right now with their MyFace twittering and it feel like a little Pond in here full of big ugly sharks to kiss... Can’t wait for the next one... give me more hooks, no one fearful here... are you coming? I love this band!  (S)  –
LIVE: VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR – Regent Theatre, Arlington, Massachusetts, 23rd June 

       Encouraged, maybe even exhorted, by Organ to go discover Van der Graaf Generator for some time now, it seems fitting to explore them for the first time in this very intimate, experimental theatre just a stone’s throw from the equally experimental People’s Republic of Cambridge. This third gig of their first proper U.S. tour is set in the comfortable, spare venue, far smaller than some living rooms and many NYC lofts. Fine acoustics, not a bad seat in the house, and I’m one of perhaps five women here, maybe six, in a sea of mostly older prog rockers who know how every note will go in a Van der Graaf Generator concert.
            New eyes and new ears present, and I know I’m supposed to be listening for intensity and despair, but I keep finding humour and hope. Is this a propensity of the XX chromosome? This stripped down trio (no saxophonist this tour) deliver rich, complicated, multiple layers of precise darkness. With holes of light. I wasn’t told about that. Intensity? I wasn’t prepared for the taurine ferocity of Guy Evans, a tenacious drummer and contents under pressure here, converted into a raw energy that is at once diesel fuel propelling big skyscrapers of sound forward, as well as a sheer pleasure to watch. I could listen to him pulverize the drum kit for hours straight. Hugh Barton is as dependable as the Thames, pure constancy on dual keyboards and foot pedals and understated accuracy. Peter Hammill on both keyboards and guitar is everything I’ve been promised, but it’s his voice that he uses as a fifth instrument that is physically compelling. It’s good to be seated perhaps only one hundred feet away to experience big swaths of sound at a cellular level. This pale slender English frame houses an enormous voice, that rips out of his lungs at enormous speed and wrenches his body and mouth.
            It’s the lyrics that are most defibrillating, in a positive way. Yes, I’m hearing actual fine poetry, full of literary device that burns emotions into my brain, actual free verse and form that most “poets” have forgotten or never learned to write – real form that acts as safe and sane bondage so that deep questions and deeper responses can be safely contained, something I’ve pontificated about for years. I imagine that he has learned to love the questions, as Rainer Maria Rilke wrote. “What cause is there left but to die?” Answered by “What cause is there left but to live?” and to try, there’s the intensity of hope. Good to hear “Lemmings” for the first time live.
              There are silences between songs, but none feel awkward, just lots of gentle self-deprecating humour to wash down great big slices of sometimes otherwordly prog rock. I love someone who can play with and to an audience; we’re definitely not here to be played at. There are shouts of requests as Hammill steps forward and tunes his guitar  for an age. An unperturbed Hammill answers, “Tune-age is very important on this stage”.  A moment of what appears to be a lost playlist, and then, “Guys, guys, we’ve spent hours working this out” as Hammill holds up a set list.   Humour only exists when two or more levels of reality co-exist; how appropriate for unique experimental prog that explores multiple time signatures, various snarls of tonal scales and meanings of lyrics. Lots of realities and spaces threaded in this room tonight.
       There’s much from the latest album “Trisector” tonight.  “Over the Hill” and “(We are) Not Here” are particularly good. “Man-Erg” is the redoubtable finale; it’s fragile and anthemic, smoother than the recording tonight and more vulnerable. I don’t hear the loneliness, but I do hear the music and lyrics penetrate the alone-ness, and having done so, the alone-ness disappears.  A musical nirvana, or a Zen koan, that alone-ness cannot last once it is universalized in such a piercing way. Not comfortable listening, but a match of lyrics and music that make a third delicate spiky reality full of darkness – with those holes of light. But then again, black is never black, is it? It’s an emulsion of all colours, and you just might find indigo or green or purple or even red in the cat’s fur.
          Go find these, and explore Van der Graaf Generator at or Now touring in North America through to 10th July. (Lilith Payne)
23rd JUNE '09: FIASSCO! – “Umm -!!!! We would like to apologies to everyone who tried to get into the EBRMC Fight Party on Saturday only to be turned away by the Oakland Police. --ALL 3,000+ OF YOU!!” Say one time ORG band and ever wholesome Bay Area punk explosive experts EVERYTHING MUST GO... 
            “Everything Must Go was the only band that successfully snuck all our members and our gear into the venue past the police blockade* and we did actually play the damn thing, to the 200 or so people who climbed over barbed wire down train tracks and over walls to break into the party. That is until we blew the power out for the entire building!!! Adding another layer of catastrophic ridiculousness. So then we went to Merchants (a bar downtown) and played there instead, along with The Binges (a f**king incredible Rock and Roll band from L.A. who came up to do the fight gig.) So that was rockin' at least.  There are lots of rumors as to how and why the thing got ruined and plenty of finger pointing but the long and short of it is this; Someone in city hall was dead set on preventing us all from having a good time. We will find out who! And expose their neo Nazi sympathies! Because one stick ass hard on should not be allowed to ruin an entire communities night~! But anyway thanks for coming out, and sorry it was such a mess. Cheerz & Love JAKE”
“Police blockades can be penetrated with a combination of lies, slight of hand, politeness, invisibility, and the exertion of an individuals inherent authority over the written law. Eddy got in three times.”

THE VAUXHALL ART CAR BOOT THING – 14th June, Brick Lane, East London - 

Knee deep in art and selling still wet paintings at the Brick Lane Art Car Boot sale, the car park was packed, art and bodies and people and sunshine and music and drink, didn’t get much chance to explore (or drink, I was dehydrating there just out of reach of that bar!). Selling Organart was the task for the day, fund raising for Resonance FM (Resonance is an arts based radio station here in London, probably the only art radio station in the world, all run by us volunteers and reliant on your donations and money raised at events like this). The place is alive with names to drop – Sir Peter Blake is over there selling one off prints at a boot fair style bargainatious thirty quid, Vivian Westwood is said to be somewhere selling off-cuts made in to badges for s fiver, her “old crap” made in to badges that read “I love crap”, Gavin Turk with some tyre prints and taking the car boot idea literally with car parts as art, Ian Monroe’s wood and marble veneered Vauxhall hatchback look good – several cars have been customised, Pam Hogg is selling, William Tempest.... Bob and Roberta Smith were just over from our spot with some good looking slices of currency, apparently any denomination of Bob and Roberta notes will set you back £50.00, investment indeed if finding a bargain that almost certainly is going to set you back a lot lot more in a more formal gallery... There’s good looking art stimulation everywhere - Hick 454 is painting a big piece of graffiti landscape with monochrome spray paint (dare we say it looks a little Roger Dean?), Like what Miss Led has done to that new car... No time to really explore though, the object was a guerrilla raid and a bag of acrylic, Montana Gold (that’s cans of spray paint to you), brushes and a pile of board recovered from a skip outside a local photography studio last week.... Set up on the edge of the Resonance boot stall/VW camper/studio where they have a DJ set up and a small booth where people are paying five pounds a time to record a jingle for the station and Bob And Roberta Resonance FM fridge magnets are being sold (e.mail us if you’d like to buy one, they’re really good!). 
             Big old ghetto blaster radios graffiti style over the leaf paintings and a whole load of things organically growing over other things is the order of the day, the already finished ones (up all night, no sleep ‘till Brick Lane) sell just as soon as they’re pulled out of the big post office sacks that have been  wrestled via the fractured Sunday morning tube system - just time to paint “Listen to Resonance 104.4FM” on them before they’re gone – encouraging start, this is fun.... This is fun! Could have been really stuck-up and well, you know... art galleries can be such inviting I’m cooler than you don’t talk to me places, especially over in East London, art-rage could have struck... This is relaxed fun though, people are coming up and talking as I sit there on the floor painting and spraying - one of the really pleasing things is the complete mix of people coming up and asking about the paintings and talking about what else they’ve seen, buying, questioning, asking about what I’m doing, about Resonance, telling tales of where they listen to their particular show – ‘ordinary’ people – yes I know there’s no such thing, but you get what I’m saying, I was expecting elite fashionista, this is far from it ... This is great fun, there’s live bands, dance troops, burlesque strippers and DJs on the main stage, they help  give a carnival atmosphere to the proceedings - all kinds of interesting people - fashion, imagination, creativity, everything relaxed, people getting really in to the reality of buying one off pieces of art to enjoy... No idea how many times I was photographed or filmed while painting, everybody pointing cameras at everyone else, the whole event has become a piece of art...  art and fun and a creative buzz and sunburnt goodness and dogs investigating wet paint in a very very colourful relaxed positive happy car park in East London – no art-rage here... Only wish I had had more time to explore and indeed to buy, must paint more... “I want that one when you finish it”. Thanks to everyone who bought a painting, or looked at one, or asked about one, all the money made went to funding the further activities Resonance FM... 
           And then it was off with almost empty sacks and just a couple of unfinished paintings and some almost empty cans of spray paint and over to London Bridge and the Resonance studio for the Sunday night Organ show. This really is a non-stop operation – a creative positive Sunday indeed.... Art is fun when it happens like this.... (S) 
“The Art Car Boot Fair was an idea that grew out of a desire to pick up where Joshua Compston’s ‘Fete Worse than Death’ and Gavin Turk’s ‘Livestock Market’ and Articultural Shows’ blazed a trail in the 90’s and to re-introduce some summer fun and frivolity into a thriving but increasingly commercial London art scene. We aim for the Art Car Boot Fair to be a day when the artists let their hair down and for all-comers to engage with art in a totally informal way, and to pick up some real art bargains to boot!”. 

Continental Train Wreck, Southbank, May 09LIVE: CONTINENTAL TRAIN WRECK – Under Embankment Bridge, South Bank of The Thames, London, May 24th 

– The late night South Bank walk back along the river to Embankment from London Bridge based Resonance FM studio on a Sunday night always throws up something interesting.  New bits of graffiti, a curious fox, the Thames Bore, guerrilla knitting and last night it was loads of CD discs mysteriously tied to trees, that and avoiding the drunken disappointment of chanting Millwall fans. Is that a band we can hear? Buskers are louder in the still river quiet of night, there’s a kettle drum player drifting right out over the river and the city. That does sound like a full on electric rock band though? Surely not? A swirling noise in the open air just over from the Houses of Parliament. Small red-light illuminating a shadowy two piece, rather edgy, sometimes ferocious drum and guitar outfit playing very loudly under the bridge, driving amps, giant sound... A couple of scruffy figures bent over small drum kit and guitar under Embankment bridge just to the right of the Royal Festival Hall... The sound they create is massive, a sound booms and echoes under the giant cathedral arch of the bridge, not sure how intentional it is, but that sound is massive! Like one those free festivals you’d once stumble on in a field in the dark dead of night... all Loop and Hawkwind and is that a touch of Hillage (or maybe John Squire?) there in those guitar sonics... Drummer’s really going for it, punky energy and Mudhoney/Melvins blasts, really not sure how in control of it they are and how much of it is the accidental ambience of the railway bridge arch and the dark of the river and the open space but this (looks and) sounds excellent... They’re attracting quite a crowd, songs are greeted with enthusiastic cheers, passers by are throwing five pound notes in to their drum case that is now acting as their CD shop - people reading the CDs five pounds or donation sign and buying them as the two of them play on (and on and on) surrounded by the captivated onlookers.  Seems they’re two brothers from Montreal, Canada, Dan and Nick Philippi - London based now, here for the streets of gold I guess. We suspect they wouldn’t sound anywhere near this good in a conventional venue, (and their music on their My Space page doesn't really do them justice), down here at midnight in the atmospheric dark of a warm Sunday night they sound wonderful....

Extra Life at the Scala, London, 200919th May '09:  That's a photo of Extra Life there, live at the Scala last night, what was that strange electric flute thing he was playing with one hand while playing keyboards with the other?  Scroll on down for the live review and bit further for the album review and a band you really need to check out...

Positions assumed? Field Punishment Number One? Disobedience? In the field of battle? Field Punishment number one - the replacement punishment, instead of flogging, tied to a cross? On display right in the middle of the battlefield? Turning like worms inside the fruit? Finger prints on chrome? Gorbals Mick? A Tribute? Great parliamentarian... Colossus... snobbery… not since Mr. Speaker Lenthall… William Wallace… Red Clydeside… Frank Haffey... Gordon Strachan… The Broons… Willie Gallagher…birds have flown… humble… history will absolve…great orator… defender… backstabbing… catholic reformation… Oor Wullie… not since Robbie Burns… dig nity….blackrod… black pudding and stotties… neeps and tatties… Jimny Maxton… Ally McCLoud… Mons Meg... Ian Bone... it is indeed all anarchy innit? Things borrowed... order, order... Don't you just love Resonance FM. So what if it was all within the rules? Who's going to clean our moat out? Look what we found in it this morning...

Still a non-stop operation...

Extra Life at the Scala - May 2009That's another  photo of Extra Life there, live at the Scala last night, scroll on down for the live review and bit further for the album review and a band not to miss...

LIVE: EXTRA LIFE – The Scala, King's Cross, London, 18th May -  One of those revelatory shows, many just staring like rabbits in the headlights, some hooked for life. In between the friendly bright lo-fi of Baby Venom (hanging together with a delicate touch of the shambolic) and the big, wave-of-noise heavy shoegazing of Deerhunter, New York based Extra Life stand out like... well, like something dropped from another planet.  Their magnificent Secular Works album is a tour de force of impossibly tight playing and passages of jaw-dropping complexity in the service of haunting, soaring, epic songs.  Ask anyone who's heard it to describe it and watch them squirm, finally weakly admitting: they're not like anyone else... Inside those songs are medieval and Arabic vocal lines, stunningly intricate glitch-like passages, drums equally precise and tribal. And live, it's all there, lacking only some of the subtler moments of the album. 

EXTRA LIVE - Scala, London, May 2009          The tightness and precision of Extra Life is something beyond any other band I can recall. Yet their emotive power is their true strength. Guitarist, band leader/composer and singer Charlie Looker has the voice of a fallen angel, carrying the plainsong-like styling of the songs through the Scala's notoriously boomy sound; whip-thin and mesmerising, he plays his guitar high on his chest, conducting the violin, bass, keyboards/wind synth and drums with the neck. They play the most complex passages seemingly effortlessly, ecstatically, all fury and elegance. Surprise of the evening is the inclusion of three new songs - big, bold, more super-progressive heavy ones, reminiscent of Thinking Plague or a darker, tenser Gentle Giant. 
    This band are playing their second ever UK gig in Brighton today (19th May), and who knows when they'll be back in Blighty, and its three in the morning thanks to the elusive 52 Night Bus - so let's get to the point: if you live in Brighton you might want to drop in to the Freebutt tonight where Extra Life are supporting Ariel Pink. You really, really might want to do that, if you’re not in Brighton and can’t get to Brighton then make every effort to see them when they come back, you need the album right now... One of those revelatory shows, one of those extra special bands... (M)
         The album review is a little further down the page. Explore Extra Life here - or
29th April '09: WHAT ARE LOUIS LINGG AND THE BOMBS UP TO? Here’s some news from Josh (stolen from his blog when he wasn't looking): 
           “Just thought I'd write a little blog about our concert last night. We played in the northern suburbs of Paris in an awesome squat called the SPA. It's just next to the biggest Society for the protection of animals shelter in Europe and yes, there were dogs everywhere living the punk life. The squat is in an abandoned kind of factory. There are massive blocks of unidentifiable rusty iron components lying all over the place. The venue itself, is in the basement and it's really cool. They've set up a really good sound system with stage monitors and everything. There's even a pretty cool light system and a back stage area. It's a good place for pogoing as there is padding and carpeting on all the walls! It was seeing our hosts, Nomsomoi and the touring band, *25* playing to some humans and a load of punk dogs of all shapes and sizes. *25* sound like some kind of post apocalyptic fuzzed out drum machine or a FLIPPER album you've accidentally put on at 45 rpm. Yes, they are that good! We played a long set and it was pretty good (we f**ked up about 3 songs which is quite good going for us) - the human part of the audience forced us to play a bunch of songs twice. That was nice but eventually we just had to stop. A bunch of squaters got up on stage then and formed an impromtu band - accordion, guitar, bass, drums and tried to jam out a few songs - and yes, before you ask, there was a dog on stage with them that fell asleep on one of the stage monitors blasting out anarcho punk noise! Various squatter punk types were walking around with industrial looking home made bongs (maybe there was a competition on who could make the biggest Mad Max looking bong ever). We were getting tired so it was time to go home. All in all it was damn fine night. Now you know where to take your dog to see a punk concert, the SPA at Gennevilliers. Rock on, Josh” Explore the rather excellent French punk band over at
ASSEMBLAGE by WILLIAM BLANCHARD – Now where were we? It is rather easy to take shots at Shoreditch and Hoxton and all the baggage that goes with it. The place is festooned with look at me poseurs and yeah yeah yeah, I know... but there is an energy and there is a little buzz when you hit Old Street, when you’re heading somewhere, when your visit has a purpose...  A decent gig at the Old Blue Last - that Capillary Action show, that Rain Emperor experience the other week, the unexpected old shops that have evolved in to DIY  galleries, a fresh piece of inspiring street art – yeah, it is easy to sneer, to mock and Saatchi’s YBA gang and Shoreditch Twats and Nathan Barley down the Nailgunner Arms and blah blah... Right now going to Shoreditch feels good, we’ll miss it when it isn’t there anymore (like we miss the Camden of those 90’s Lurch days and the backroom of the Falcon before the Flies infested and the Crawl made us crawl...), this won’t last. There’s still a healthy do it yourself creative energy to be found in Shoreditch still, celebrate it while you can   Tonight our purpose is the opening of a small exhibition called Assemblage from a man some know as Wildcat Will. Wildcat Will’s real name is William Blanchard and a press release last week got us curious enough to get on the tube... The gallery website does Wildcat’s work no justice, is it us or does that one American Buns image, the only image on the site, look like a flat print? a slice of tired soup can seen it before Coca-Cola pop art? Art on the internet on the whole doesn’t work that well, in this case the image, is very misleading and rather two dimensional, best ignore it... 

“Strangeness is the indispensable condiment of all beauty” -    Boudelaire 

Here’s some blurb and background 

William Blanchard started his career as a musician with his first band Bruce Wayne and the Batniks back in the Eighties, a time in which he says he had a rock and roll epiphany involving sex and drugs, during in which God gave him the name Wildcat, a name he has used as an artist and musician ever since. 

“Wildcat Will has taken inspiration for this exhibition from Joseph Cornell (1903-72) who created ‘poetry from the commonplace’ especially with his boxed assemblages created from found objects, and the west coast artist Wallace Berman (1926-76) with reference to the privately made and published issues of ‘SEMINA‘ whose contributors included Antonin Artaud, Charles Bukowski, William S Burroughs, Marion Grogan, Stuart Perkoff, Jean Cocteau and Allen Ginsberg. Inspiration was also drawn from his collages and work with esoteric and mystical imagery using the early mimeograph machines.

Wildcat Will formed The Sandals in 1990, they existed for five years, releasing music with that rather confused label known as London Records (we here at Organ were doing a lot of art for bands associated with London at that time, those Atom Seed days and such, do recall being asked to do Sandals covers at one point by the label, we later heard that suggestion hadn’t gone down well with the band, seems they had ideas of their own – asking bands what they wanted to do never did seem to be a priority at London, the stories we could tell). Wildcat moved on from The Sandals before moving on to form an art/music/poetry collective, which included paintings and installations in galleries and clubs in London, L.A and Tokyo. from 1995-2002 ‘Wildcat’ played drums for Beth Orton, touring on and off for 7 years and recording the albums (Trailer Park, Central Reservation and Daybreaker), he played drums for Dot Allison, The Aloof, and more recently Whitey 2003-07. Wildcat has worked and collaborated with Jagz Kooner (Sabres of Paradise), Death in Vegas (Contino Sessions, Satan’s Circus), Andrew Weatherall (Two Lone Swordsmen) David Holmes, Primal Scream and James Lavelle. Recent projects have included co-producing, writing, playing drums, guitar and synths on the new album by his long term partner Siobhan Fahey (Bananrama, Shakespear’s sister), drumming for The Wolfmen (Marco Pirroni and Chris Constantionou (Adam and theAnts) session work on Dirty Stop out - Agent Provocateur creator Joe Corre’s new band with Mick Jones (The Clash), and last year with Le Volume Courbe and Arthur Delaney (Young and Lost). Wildcat is also writing and producing music as part of a duo with Matty Skylab known as The Electric Moccasins of Doom. Wildcat Will has returned to making art after an enforced hiatus and this is his first solo show in London for 5 years” – enough with the cutting ‘n pasting with the biog already.... 

The rather inviting rather basic Neu Gallery is in a dark looking seen better days shell of a one time shop down in Redchurch Street (next to the Owl And Pussycat should you know the area), there’s a whole load of people standing outside drinking and talking when we arrive a couple of hours after the official opening, bit of a party atmosphere... Push through the black shop door into the overloud music and there’s a wall of rather intriguing pieces of boxed found art, collage, framed sculpture, faded assemblages, torn pages, labels. Some of the twenty-six pieces work a little more that others - the collage, the pop art, the Americana and the 50’s comic book bites next the touches of Brasso, the Edwardian colours and the plastic moths, the rather different use of stencil and the almost English Victorian yellowed 60’s comic book Americana Cat Women and such... Wildcat has pulled together a good looking set of images to form some rather decent pieces - ideas that work, images that should contradict awkwardly and really don’t, not sure about those plastic moths and butterflies... A quietly lit dark old shop is just the place to experience Assemblage. Dusty old boxes for frames, faded sputniks, Action Man targets, contradiction that doesn’t contradict... well worth dropping by and exploring a little, well worth taking in the subtle assembly, the revenge of the lizard man and the holy bagatelle. 

The show runs from Friday 24th April to Wednesday 6th May 2009 at THE MAURICE EINHARDT NEU GALLERY 30A Redchurch Street, London E2, more from the Neu website - or





KELLY JOHNSON (Girlschool)
KELLY JOHNSON (Girlschool)